As the Mets continue to search around for outfielders and hitters in general, one source says that the team may already have its eyes set on a target. According to Kristie Ackert in the Daily News, the Mets are going hard after outfielder Nelson Cruz and a source says that the team may actually be the early leader to acquire the 33-year old ex-Rangers slugger. Cruz hit .266/.327/.506 with the Rangers last year, swatting 27 home runs in 109 games, but he also lost 50 games to a suspension thanks to his involvement with the Biogenesis clinic.
Cruz, who was a Mets farmhand nearly 15 years ago and traded away for utility infielder Jorge Velandia back in 2000, seems likely to bring a powerful bat with him wherever he chooses to sign. He's posted a career .268/.327/.495 line in over nine seasons in the majors. That line is good for a .353 wOBA and a 114 wRC+ and both marks are strong for a corner outfielder. His .220 isolated slugging percentage, along with the fact he's hit at least 22 home runs in each of the last 5 seasons, would go a long way towards helping a Mets team that is mostly bereft of power.
There are plenty of questions about Cruz, however. The Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington is a fantastic hitter's park and his career home (.294/.356/.556) and road (.242/.299/.435) splits point to potential decrease in his overall line when swapping out 81 games there for 81 games at Citi Field. Not only may Cruz see his offensive production slip in a bigger park, he could also see his defensive output worsen further. Defensive metrics such as Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating have unanimously rated Cruz a below average outfielder the last three seasons and at 33 years old, that's unlikely to improve going forward.
Ackert states that the Rangers and Mariners are the other teams seriously interested in Cruz so far, though Jon Heyman reported this morning that the Oakland Athletics could be a dark horse candidate for the outfielder. After turning down a qualifying offer from the Rangers, Cruz would also cost the Mets their 2nd round draft pick.